Beyond Desencanto: The Slow Emergence of New Social Youth Movements in Spain During the Early 1980s

  • Enrique Tudela
  • Claudio Cattaneo
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Social Movements book series (PSHSM)


The protest movements that emerged in Spain in 1980–81 may have been different in several respects to those in other Northern and Western European countries. While many cities in those countries witnessed the rise of an autonomist and squatter movement, noted for their direct action repertoires and countercultural values, the Spanish context was still strongly shaped by the transition from the Franco dictatorship to a parliamentary democracy. In order to understand the movements of 1980–81 in Spain, it is thus necessary to position them within the general political context of the transition era, which began after Franco’s death in 1975 and ended with the rise to government of the Socialist Party in 1982. In the Spanish context, the transition era has a stronger explanatory value for the socio-political changes that took place in the early 1980s than the specific years 1980–81. However, in this chapter we argue that the years 1980–81 did play an important role in this process. These were the years in which the hopes of a generation of political activists for revolutionary change awakened, after four decades of dictatorship, and gave way to the disenchantment (desencanto) of the 1980s. What arose out of desencanto was a movement far more similar to the radical movements in the rest of Europe.


Social Movement Communist Party Basque Country Radical Movement Neighbourhood Association 
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© Enrique Tudela and Claudio Cattaneo 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Enrique Tudela
  • Claudio Cattaneo

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